Lent was never something I participated in as a kid. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I even heard about it and that people gave something up for a few weeks. Of course, all my friends were giving up sodas and chocolate and so I associated Lent with giving up things that were bad for you anyway and clumped it together with New Year’s resolutions. If you know you need to change, why wait for a certain day to make that change?
I also hated giving up the same thing as anybody else. Because Ive always done something random and that wasn’t a big deal to begin with, I don’t remember what I’ve given up in the past. But this year, hopefully, I’ll remember. You see, this year I gave up shaving. The fun part is, I go through seasons of trying to be clean shaven and seasons of wishing my beard was as long as the Duck Commanders. Not shaving is really just a normal part of my life. But I did this for one very specific and humiliating reason. So I could shave half my face and share this picture with you.
There it is. In all it’s hideous, disturbing glory. Why would I go through 40 days of lent, take an embarrassing picture of myself, and share it with you? Because I want you to see how much someone can change in 40 days. Despite my track record of previous Lenten fasts, taking 40 days to get rid of stuff that weighs you down, distracts you from what’s important, or just isn’t good for you can make all the difference for your life.
The great news is you don’t have to wait until New Years or next Ash Wednesday to get started. You can start to make a change right now. And by limiting yourself to 40 days there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And if you start today, April 30, there are exactly 40 days until Pentecost (just in case you want to keep in line with major religious holidays).
I have a suggestion though, don’t think too hard about giving something up. Try to find things to add to your daily routine. For instance, you could:
Read the entire New Testament (it only takes 18 hours to read it out loud, or less than 30 minutes a day)
Pray through the Book of Common Prayer’s Daily Office
Get outside and just bask in God’s creation through walks, hikes, bike rides, bird watching, or whatever makes you happy.
Find one random person a day and make it your goal to make them smile.
Begin and end each day with a Psalm.
Memorize one verse a day.
Sit in absolute silence for 10 minutes a day, listening for God’s voice.
Keep a journal, write down your prayers, look back at it often to see where God has worked.
Search scripture for each time the number 40 appears.
Learn to play an instrument
We all could us a little change in our lives. Don’t put it off, start now.